With all of the attention that has been given to the contract situations of Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Logan Mankins this offseason, not much has been said about Patriots' kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
Gostkowski signed a four year deal after being drafted in the fourth round in the 2006 NFL Draft. In his four years with the team, Gostkowski has connected on 85.1% of his field goals in the regular season, and hasn't missed an extra point since his rookie year.
Speaking of his rookie year, Gostkowski was a really pleasant surprise for the team. With Adam Vinatieri bolting to the Colts after the 2005 season, the Patriots were in a real bind at kicker. However, Gostkowski stepped right in and found success, connecting on nearly 77% of his field goals in the regular season, including a game winner against San Diego in the playoffs. In his second year, Gostkowski was 21-24. His third year, 36-40 with Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.
Besides his field goal kicking, Gostkowski has had a major impact on the Patriots through his success on kickoff duties. While some teams must have two kickers these days (one for field goals, one as a kickoff specialist), the Patriots have the luxury to carry just one. In his four years in the league, Stephen Gostkowski has 65 touchbacks, a total that has increased each year (21 in 2009). Meanwhile, Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri has just 88 career touchbacks, and is entering his fifteenth year in the league.
The point of this article isn't to compare Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski, the point is to highlight the value of Stephen Gostkowski, and to prove that he really does deserve a contract extension.
My feeling is that Patriots fans have been spoiled by having good kicking for the past 15+ seasons. The team went straight from Adam Vinatieri to Stephen Gostkowski, two Pro Bowl level kickers. It's easy to forget what having bad kicking is like. If you need to know what it's like, just ask any New York Jets fan.
Stephen Gostkowski is a top 5 kicker in this league, that is a fact. It's also a fact that kickers as good as Gostkowski are hard to find. With all of the drama that has been caused by Logan Mankins, Gostkowski, who certainly deserves a long term extension, has remained content with his one year tender. While he could complain and hold out like Mankins, he has remained a good citizen.
In my opinion, Gostkowski deserves a deal in the 4 year, $12 million range, or 5 year, $15 million. Obviously, we don't know what is going on with negotiations behind closed doors, but if one player deserves an extension, it's Stephen Gostkowski.